It’s been 35 years since minor league baseball debuted in Everett, so it’s the ideal time to rank the top 35 players for a franchise that’s served two major-league clubs — the San Francisco Giants (1984-1994) and the Seattle Mariners (1995-present).
In putting this list together, we solicited input from, among others, longtime AquaSox broadcaster Pat Dillon, longtime public-address announcer Tom Lafferty, former beat writer Jesse Geleynse, and most importantly, BaseballReference.com and FanGraphs.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you peruse the list:
— The main criterion was how a player performed while in Everett, though prospect pedigree and future accomplishments also were considered.
— The list heavily favors position players. That’s because of the nature of short-season minor-league baseball, where pitchers, especially in recent years, are limited in an effort to protect their young arms. Just 11 of the 35 players on the list are pitchers.
— Eighteen of the 35 players reached the major leagues, though quite a few were there only for a cup of coffee. It’s a long way from Everett to the big leagues.
— All current season stats are through last Thursday.
35. Cal Raleigh, catcher, 2018
Everett stats: 38 G, 166 PA, 10 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 1 SB, .288/.367/.534, .902 OPS, 149 wRC+
The Florida State product arrived late after signing his contract just before the July deadline for 2018 draft picks. But Raleigh mashed in his limited time with the AquaSox. His .902 OPS was sixth-best in the Northwest League. Raleigh is currently in Class A with the Modesto Nuts, where he’s hitting .227 with a .710 OPS.
34. Kyle Lewis, OF, 2016
Everett stats: 30 G, 135 PA, 8 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 3 SB, .299/.385/.530, .915 OPS, 152 wRC+
Lewis was must-see entertainment for baseball junkies at Northwest League ballparks before suffering a gruesome knee injury while attempting to avoid a collision at the plate, ending his one season in Everett. Lewis, the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2016 out of Mercer University, has cooled off as a prospect, dropping out of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, but is healthy for the first time since 2016 and is at Class AA Arkansas, where he’s posted a slash line of .241/.341/.377.
33. Kevin Mailloux, INF, 2010
Everett stats: 65 G, 284 PA, 19 2B, 3 3B, 15 HR, 52 RBI, 7 SB, .296/.367/.576, .943 OPS, 164 wRC+
The Canadian was a staple of Everett’s lineup during its championship season, leading the NWL in home runs. However, he did not end up lifting the championship trophy with the Sox. He was promoted just before the championship series began. Already 24 at the time, Mailloux left professional baseball following the season.
32. Ryan Rowland-Smith, LHP, 2002
Everett stats: 18 G, 6 GS, 2.77 ERA, 61.2 IP, 58 K, 22 BB, 1.297 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
An Australian southpaw, Rowland-Smith pitched well as a 19-year-old in the NWL. The international free agent eventually rose up the ladder and played five seasons in the big leagues, four with the Mariners (2007-2010). He’s still involved with the organization as an analyst for the M’s television and radio broadcasts.
31. Doug Fister, RHP, 2006
Everett stats: 20 G, 4 GS, 2.25 ERA, 40.0 IP, 35 K, 11 BB, 1.150 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
The 6-foot-8 Fister had about as good a professional debut as a pitcher can have. He threw five no-hit innings and struck out nine his first time out for the Sox. He had four solid starts for Everett before being moved to the bullpen to lighten the load on his arm following a long college season. He went on to win 83 major-league games in a 10-year career.
30. Chris Singleton, CF, 1993
Everett stats: 58 G, 14 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 14 SB, .265/.322/.406, .729 OPS
Singleton didn’t tear up the NWL, but the speedy center fielder eventually embarked on a six-year MLB career with four different organizations. The former Giants’ prospect is now a studio analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight program, a position he’s held since 2008.
29. DJ Peterson, 3B, 2013
Everett stats: 29 G, 123 PA, 6 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB, .312/.382/.532, .914 OPS, 162 wRC+
One year removed from Mike Zunino mania in Everett, the AquaSox experienced the lite version. Peterson, like Zunino, was a first-round draft pick out of college who began his pro career with Everett. Like Zunino, he spent a month hammering the ball in Everett before being promoted. Peterson, who’s in Class AAA with the Chicago White Sox organization and still awaiting his major-league debut, had the most appropriate of walk-up songs in Lil Wayne’s “Go DJ.”
28. Victor Sanchez, RHP, 2012
Everett stats: 15 G, 15 S, 3.18 ERA, 85.0 IP, 69 K, 27 BB, 1.129 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
Sanchez was a physical freak, a stout 6-foot, 255-pounder from Venezuela who was competitive in the NWL at the tender age of 17. Despite his size, Sanchez’s main strength wasn’t velocity, but rather his advanced changeup. He was moving up the rungs of Seattle’s minor-league system when he died from injuries suffered in a boating accident at age 20.
27. Luis Valbuena, 2B, 2005
Everett stats: 74 G, 325 PA, 10 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 14 SB, .261/.333/.443, .776 OPS
Valbuena was a little guy who showed some big power during his time with the AquaSox, with his left-handed swing taking full advantage of the short fence in right-center at Everett Memorial Stadium. He had an 11-year major-league career, including 114 home runs, before his death last December in a car crash in his native Venezuela.
26. Asdrubel Cabrera, SS, 2004
Everett stats: 63 G, 274 PA, 16 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 41 RBI , 7 SB, .272/.330/.427, .756 OPS
Cabrera’s offensive stats with Everett may not pop off the page, but they were good for an 18-year-old shortstop playing professionally in the U.S. for the first time. And Cabrera’s biggest strength was his defense. He showed off major-league-caliber defensive tools. Cabrera, traded to Cleveland for Eduardo Perez while still in the minors, has made two all-star teams during his 13-year major-league career. He’s currently the Texas Rangers’ regular third baseman.
25. Jose (Vicente) Campos, RHP, 2011
Everett stats: 14 G, 14 GS, 2.32 ERA, 81.1 IP, 85 K, 13 BB, 0.971, 1.4 BB/9, 9.4 K/9
Campos, who later became known as Vicente Campos, put himself on the prospect map by dominating NWL batters as a hard-throwing 18-year-old from Venezuela. He raised his profile to the point where he was a piece sought by the New York Yankees when the Mariners traded for catcher Jesus Montero. Campos has appeared in one major-league game with Arizona. He’s currently in Class AA in the Pittsburgh organization.
24. Michael Saunders, OF, 2005
Everett stats: 56 G, 228 PA, 13 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 2 SB, .270/.361/.474, .836 OPS
Saunders was the rare player to jump from one year of community college ball straight to Everett rather than spending time in a rookie league, and he justified that decision by improving considerably as the season progressed. Late in the season he hit a long home run to center field that landed on the roof of the AquaSox offices. He had a nine-year major-league career that included one all-star appearance.
23. Jabari Blash, OF, 2011
Everett stats: 57 G, 229 PA, 16 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 10 SB, .292/.393/.574, .967 OPS, 136 wRC+
The native of the Virgin Islands arrived in Everett with relatively little baseball background, but a wealth of raw talent that revealed itself mostly in the form of power, including winning an Everett Memorial Stadium fan $10,000 when Blash hit a grand slam during the Grand Slam Inning promotion. Blash saw time in the majors in three seasons. He’s currently clubbing homers in Japan.
22. Dave Nash, OF, 1986
Everett stats: 54 G, 235 PA, 14 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 3 SB, .313/.415/.520, .935 OPS
The Giants’ 24th-round pick from Central Michigan came in with little expectations, but exceeded those quickly and was voted the league’s MVP, the first Everett minor-leaguer to win the award. Nash played two more years in the San Francisco system before leaving pro ball.
21. Michael Plassmeyer, LHP, 2018
Everett stats: 13 G, 12 GS, 2.25 ERA, 24.0 IP, 44 K, 4 BB, 0.833 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 16.5 K/9
Plassmeyer wasn’t able to throw much with the AquaSox after pitching 90-plus innings for Missouri before being drafted in the fourth round by the Mariners, but when he was on the mound, he was virtually unhittable. He struck out 47.8 percent of the batters he faced. He was traded after his debut season in the organization in the deal that brought outfielders Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley to Seattle. Plassmeyer is currently at Class A Charlotte.
20. Rafael Soriano, RHP, 1999
Everett stats: 14 G, 14 GS, 3.11 ERA, 75.1 IP, 83 K, 49 BB, 1.394 WHIP, 5.9 BB/9, 9.9 K/9
Soriano was a converted position player, but you could hardly tell he was new to pitching based on his numbers in Everett. Before blossoming into a 14-year major-leaguer and all-star reliever in 2010, Soriano posted a 3.11 ERA in 75 1/3 innings with the AquaSox.
19. Ismael Castro, 2B, 2002
Everett stats: 66 G, 311 PA, 26 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 13 SB, .313/.356/.507, .863 OPS
Castro raked during his time at Everett to earn the league’s MVP award. The Puerto Rican middle infielder worked his way up to Triple-A, but could never break into the majors. Castro last played for the Chico Outlaws in the Independent Golden Baseball League.
18. Rob Zachmann, 1B, 1996
Everett stats: 74 G, 318 PA, 13 2B, 1 3B, 19 HR, 64 RBI, 4 SB, .291/.358/.544, .902 OPS
Zachmann played at Pace University in New York and played a year of non-affiliated ball before signing with the Mariners. They placed him in Everett and he developed into the league MVP. Zachmann didn’t last long in pro ball, playing a season with Class A Wisconsin before being released.
17. Jamal Strong, OF, 2000
Everett stats: 75 G, 358 PA, 7 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 60 SB, .314/.422/.368, .790 OPS
The sixth-round pick by the Mariners in 2000 hit well in his first stop in professional baseball, and was an absolute terror on the base paths, swiping 60 bags. Strong played in parts of two seasons in the big leagues — 2003 and 2005 — and made 26 plate appearances.
16. Patrick Kivlehan, 3B, 2012
Everett stats: 72 G, 316 PA, 17 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, .301/.373/.511, .883 OPS, 151 wRC+
Kivlehan was a tad older than the typical NWL player when he was in Everett, but he had a good excuse: He was a football player in college who didn’t play college baseball until his senior year. His combination of power and speed helped him win the Northwest League MVP award. Kivlehan has seen time in the majors in three seasons and is currently at Class AAA in the Toronto system.
15. Eric Filia, OF, 2016
Everett stats: 68 G, 292 PA, 19 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 46 RBI, 10 SB, .362/.450/.496, .946 OPS, 168 wRC+
The eccentric 24-year-old took the NWL by storm, winning the league’s MVP after being drafted in the 20th round by the Mariners. Since his time in Everett, Filia is perhaps best known for his patented shimmy during his walk to the batter’s box and for being suspended for positive drug tests.
14. Drew Jackson, SS, 2015
Everett stats: 59 G, 266 PA, 12 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 47 SB, .358/.432/.447, .879 OPS, 156 wRC+
The Mariners went through a phase of selecting college shortstops in the fifth round who weren’t expected to hit in pro ball but came to Everett and exceeded expectations. Jackson may have been the best of those as he flirted with .400 during his season in Everett and stole 47 bases. He was caught just four times. He made his major-league debut this season with Baltimore.
13. Chris Snelling, OF, 1999
Everett stats: 69 G, 312 PA, 15 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 8 SB, .306/.388/.498, .886 OPS
Snelling was another Australian who burst on the scene in Everett. He made his MLB debut in 2002 and played parts of five seasons in the big leagues. Snelling recently served as an assistant coach for the Sumner High School baseball team.
12. Tom Messier, LHP, 1984
Everett stats: 12 G, 12 GS, 1.97 ERA, 77.2 ERA, 116 K, 41 BB, 1.094 WHIP, 4.8 BB/9, 13.4 K/9
Messier was lights out in 12 starts for the Everett Giants, striking out batter’s at a high clip. The 20th-rounder never materialized into a major leaguer and didn’t get past Class A Fresno.
11. Matt Brewer, 1B, 1991
Everett stats: 68 G, 279 PA, 21 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 48 RBI, 4 SB, .347/.434/.569, 1.003
A 19th-round pick in 1991, Brewer hit plenty for the Everett Giants in his first year of professional baseball, but he didn’t advance past Class A before hanging up his spikes.
10. Jake Weber, OF, 1998
Everett stats: 75 G, 352 PA, 20 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 52 RBI, 14 SB, .338/.471/.545, 1.017 OPS
A sixth-round pick, Weber tore the cover off the ball in Everett with 33 extra-base hits. The North Carolina State product advanced to Triple-A Tacoma, but never reached the majors. He transitioned into a career with the military after his baseball career ended.
9. Mark Owens, C, 1987
Everett stats: 65 G, 284 PA, 14 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 54 RBI, .357/.479/.639, 1.118 OPS
From a purely statistical standpoint, you’d be hard pressed to find another player with more gaudy numbers than Owens, who slugged over .600 and posted a four-digit OPS. He advanced as high as Triple-A Phoenix in 1990.
8. Kevin Rivers, OF, 2010
Everett stats: 71 G, 309 PA, 13 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 48 RBI, .332/.466/.556, 1.002 OPS, 188 wRC+
Rivers was one of the key players on Everett’s lone NWL championship team as a Seattle affiliate. His left-handed power bat played well in Everett Memorial Stadium, and he walked nearly once a game. Rivers began showing up on Mariners’ top-prospect lists following the season but his career stalled out at Class AA.
7. Chris Taylor, SS, 2012
Everett stats: 37 G, 165 PA, 12 2B, 1 3B, 2 2B, 18 RBI, .328/.430/.474, .905 OPS, 161 wRC+
Taylor arrived from college as a shortstop with a good-glove, poor-bat reputation. However, he did nothing but hit during his month-plus with the AquaSox, spraying line drives all around Everett Memorial Stadium, and on a roster full of speedy players, Taylor may have been the fastest. Taylor blossomed as an all-position player with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being traded for Zach Lee.
6. Troy Cate, LHP, 2002
Everett stats: 16 G, 12 GS, 2.00 ERA, 85.1 IP, 95 K, 11 BB, 0.855 WHIP, 1.2 BB/9, 10.0 K/9
The sixth-round pick out of Ricks College missed plenty of bats, didn’t walk many hitters and didn’t allow many runs in his first season of professional baseball. Cate was suspended for steroids in 2005, but eventually made his MLB debut with the Cardinals in 2007. That was his only big-league season.
5. Ryan Yarbrough, LHP, 2014
Everett stats: 12 G, 10 GS, 1.40 ERA, 38.2 IP, 53 K, 4 BB, 0.750 WHIP, 0.9 BB/9, 12.3 K/9
Yarbrough was originally drafted by the Mariners as a cost-saving measure — he was a college senior who signed for well under his fourth-round slot number to free up extra money for signing first-rounder Alex Jackson and second-rounder Gareth Morgan. But he had the NWL overmatched during his season in Everett, and he broke into the majors last season after being traded to Tampa Bay.
4. Bill Mueller, 2B, 1993
Everett stats: 58 G, 253 PA, 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 13 SB, .300/.425/.375, .800 OPS
Mueller was a standout in Everett and eventually moved on to a 12-year MLB career, winning a batting title in 2003 (.326). He’s also the only player to ever hit two grand slams in the same game from each side of the plate. After retiring from the big leagues in 2006, he worked his way into coaching. His most recent stop was on the Cardinals’ staff as an assistant hitting coach.
3. Gregory Halman, OF, 2006-2007
Everett stats (2007): 62 G, 265 PA, 19 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 37 RBI, 16 SB, .307/.371/.592, .968 OPS, 151 wRC+
The native of The Netherlands was as physically gifted as any player to ever wear an AquaSox uniform. He had easy power that allowed him to rocket the ball out of Everett Memorial Stadium seemingly without effort, and he had the speed to steal bases at will. Tragically, Halman was killed in his native Netherlands at the age of 24 before his major-league career was able to get up to speed. His No. 26 has been retired by the AquaSox.
2. Mike Zunino, C, 2012
Everett stats: 29 G, 133 PA, 10 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB, .373/.474/.736, 1.210 OPS, 233 wRC+
Zunino was a Northwest League sensation. The third-overall pick in the 2012 draft began his professional career in Everett, and was immediately the best hitter in the league. He played six seasons with the Mariners, topping 20 homers three times, before being traded to Tampa Bay last offseason.
1. Felix Hernandez, RHP, 2003
Everett stats: 11 G, 7 GS, 2.29 ERA, 55.0 IP, 73 K, 24 BB, 1.218 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 11.9 K/9
The Mariners’ Venezuelan scouting discovery appeared in Everett at the age of 17 and hardly was overmatched, posting an ERA just above 2.00 in 11 appearances in his first foray into pro baseball. The young right-hander’s debut season put him on the prospect radar, and he ultimately developed into the top pitching prospect in baseball. In 15 big-league seasons he’s posted a 169-132 record and a 3.28 ERA. And it all started in Everett.